The Vice President of India Shri M. Venkiah Naidu was the Chief Guest at a function to celebrate “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” organized by the DEPwD, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment here today. He conferred the National Awards on Individuals, Institutions, Organizations and State/District etc. for their outstanding achievements and work done towards empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot presided over the function. Ministers of State for Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Shri Ramdas Athawale and Shri Rattan Lal Kataria also graced the occasion.Addressing on the occasion, the Vice President said that it was indeed a pleasure for him to be present on this occasion of presentation of National Awards for the empowerment of persons with disabilities on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The name of this ‘Day’ should have been the International Day of Persons with Special Abilities. We have many of these remarkable men and women with special abilities amidst us who have excelled in a number of fields. Given the right kind of environment and opportunities they can make immense contribution to the cause of nation building. Today, some of these great achievers are being honoured for their achievements.He said that India has one of the highest numbers of people with disabilities globally. According to the Census of India 2011, there are 2.68 crore Persons with Disabilities in our country, which constitutes 2.21% of our population. This number may still be higher as many persons, specially because those with mental health issues often hide them due to social stigma attached to these ailments.
The Vice President emphasised that we need to study and analyse various dimensions of disability comprehensively and need to identify the causes of disability and find ways to deal with them so that each individual is empowered to live a life of dignity. There is an urgent need to provide right nutrition and care to pregnant mothers and young children and also create good and accessible medical facilities across rural India. Early identification of disability is also important. This would enable us to undertake effective interventions from the beginning for rehabilitation measures and empowerment of the affected persons. There is a need to harmonize the immunization and disease prevention programmes with appropriate rehabilitatory models at least at the District level.He opined that major challenge that people with special abilities face is the society’s attitude towards them. People often see a person with disabilities as an object of ‘sympathy’ and ‘pity’. This leads to a low self-esteem. What is needed is not ‘sympathy’ and ‘pity’. Rather, it is ‘empathy’ and ‘support’ that are required. It was this feeling of respect that underlies the new nomenclature given by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi when he called the disabled ‘Divyang’ replacing the old word of ‘Vikalang’.The Vice President said that the Government has taken a number of initiatives to systematically address the challenges faced by the persons with disabilities. The Government amended the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016. This has created a very progressives ‘right-based’ framework for the welfare of our differently abled brothers and sisters. The quota of reservation for persons with disabilities has been increased from 3% to 4% in government jobs and 3% to 5% in higher education institutions.He said that in order to develop a common language and communication for hearing impaired in the country, the Government has established the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre.
The institute has already created a sign language dictionary of more than 6000 words and is working towards developing a standardized Indian Sign Language. The Government is also in the process of implementing a Unique ID project to create a national database of all persons with disabilities in the country for taking Government benefits to every deserving person.In his address, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot said that in all 850 applications were received and out of that the Screening Committee selected 65 persons, whom the Vice President has conferred with National Award today. These Divyangjan have remarkably excelled in their respective fields. During past 5 and a half years the Government of India has taken many unique and extraordinary initiatives for the welfare of Divyangjan and 7 Gunnies Book of World Records have also been created by Divyangjan of our country. He called for people’s participation in the noble cause of welfare of Divyangjan.Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment in his address dwelt upon the major initiatives of the DEPwD, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment for the welfare of Divyangjan.On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities i.e. 3rd December, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment confers National Awards on Individuals, Institutions, Organizations, State/District etc for their outstanding achievements and work done towards empowerment of Persons with Disabilities every year.
National Awards for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities for the year 2019, were given under 14 (Fourteen) categories hereunder:-
Best Employee/Self-Employed Person with Disabilities;
Best Employers and Placement Officers and/or Agencies;
Best Individual and Institution, working for the cause of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities;
Best Applied Research or Innovation or Product, aimed at improving the life of Persons with Disabilities;
Outstanding Work in creation of barrier-free environment for Persons with Disabilities;
Best District in providing rehabilitation services;
Best State Channelizing Agency of the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC);
Outstanding Creative Adult Person with Disabilities;
Best Creative Child with Disabilities;
Best Braille Press;
Best Accessible Website;
Best State (i) in promoting Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities; & (ii) for implementation of Accessible India Campaign.
Best Sports-person with Disabilities.
Till 2017, the Award Scheme was governed under the National Awards Rules, 2013 which provided 7 categories of disabilities as per the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. However, with the coming into force of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 w.e.f. 19th April 2017, the number of specified disabilities increased from 7 to 21 under the new Law. Accordingly all the 21 disabilities have been included under the National Award Guidelines which have been notified in the Extra-ordinary Gazette of India dated 2nd August, 2018.Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) writes to the State Governments/Union Territory Administrators and Central Ministries/Departments calling nominations for National Awards in various categories. Advertisement is also published in the national/regional language daily newspapers to give wide publicity of the Awards. The detailed scheme of National Awards as also the advertisement issued for calling applications is displayed in the website of the Department (www.disabilityaffairs.gov.in ) in a downloadable format. Following above mentioned procedure for National Awards 2019, an advertisement inviting applications from persons belonging to all the 21 specified disabilities was published in the leading newspapers on 5th July, 2019 with the last date for submission of applications as 30th August, 2019 which was subsequently extended to 30th September, 2019. In all 973 applications were received. These applications were shortlisted on merit basis by four Screening Committees constituted for this purpose. The National Selection Committee under the Chairpersonship of the Union Minister, Social Justice & Empowerment in its meeting held on 6.11.2019 considered the recommendation of the Screening Committees. In all 65 awards in 14 categories were approved. It is hoped that the achievements of the Awardees will motivate and inspire others to emulate for similar accomplishments.